That’s a quote from Karen Blixen, the author of “Out of Africa”.  I started off my adventure in Tanzania by summitting Mount Kilimanjaro — a definite highlight of my life!  You can read about it here:  To The Roof Of Africa! Mount Kilimanjaro!  The safari was next and it did not disappoint!  Tanzania is glorious!

One cannot resist the lure of Africa.”  Rudyard Kipling

There is always something new out of Africa.”  Pliny the Elder

The description of my 5-day Wildlife Highlights Safari was:

Get a taste of Tanzania’s stunning wildlife on this 5-day safari extension.  Celebrate your achievement on Kilimanjaro with a quick trip to two of Tanzania’s other best-known landscapes:  the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park.  You’ll see a remarkable self-contained ecosystem, the endless, iconic plains of the Serengeti, and more wildlife than you can imagine on this 5-day journey around Northern Tanzania.

Can you imagine the stars in my eyes after I read that?  I booked.  Of course, I booked.  I also opted for the Hot Air Balloon ride above the Serengeti.

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Here are the Serengeti Big Five, along with it’s Conservation Status and estimated numbers:

  1. East African Lion ~ Vulnerable ~ 3,000
  2. African Leopard ~ Vulnerable ~ 1,000
  3. African Bush Elephant ~ Vulnerable ~ 5,000
  4. Eastern Black Rhinoceros ~ Critically Endangered ~ numbers are very low due to poaching for its horn ~ approximately 80 left in Tanzania
  5. African Buffalo ~ Least Concern ~ 53,000

We did see all of the Big Five!

Arusha to the Ngorongoro Highlands

I awoke at the Mount Meru Game Lodge one day after descending Mount Kilimanjaro and one day after my shower!  I immediately got another shower!!  My body hurt — especially my legs from descending the mountain.  I packed up my stuff and went outside and explored the lodge.

From the Mount Meru Game Lodge website:

Set in beautiful and tranquil surroundings, the Mount Meru Game Lodge is nestled between the Usa river and the wildlife sanctuary.  The sanctuary is home to zebra, ostrich, a wide array of birds and monkeys, including the elusive Colobus monkey.  The lodge & sanctuary was established by Dr. Von Nagy in 1959 and remains in family hands till today.  The lodge has grown in popularity over the years, and our visitors have included numerous presidents as well as members of European Royal families.

Isn’t this little guy just the cutest?  He stole a breakfast bun and provided the entertainment!

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We left the Game Lodge and headed to the Thomson Safaris office to drop off the Kilimanjaro bags.  I was now travelling with my smaller red duffel bag.  I love bags — travel bags, hiking bags, backpacks, designer purses, wallets — it’s never ending.  One more collection that will gather dust in storage.

And we were off!  We drove from Arusha to the Ngorongoro Highlands and encountered these young men alongside the road.  They were quite the entrepreneurs and charged us for the privilege of taking their picture.

These Maasai boys had recently been circumcized — this is why they were all in black.  There is no freezing done and the boys cannot make a sound during the procedure or they will bring shame and dishonour to their families.  Girls used to also be circumcized at this age.  The government banned it and now the Maasai circumcize females around the age of 2 and in secret.

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Such intricate face paint and headgear!

We arrived at Gibb’s Farm — we would be spending a couple nights here.  Gibb’s Farm was like the shoe section in the SAKS store — absolute bliss!  This princess loved everything about it!

From the Gibb’s Farm website:

Gibb’s Farm—A Unique, Authentic Experience

Voted Best Safari Hotel* in Africa, Gibb’s Farm imparts a sense of well-being, tranquility and history—deeply rooted in African culture and community—in a warm, rustic luxury environment.  A peaceful sanctuary to rejuvenate the senses while on safari in Tanzania, the farm features cozy, well-appointed cottages, breath-taking scenery and wildlife and unique cultural activities that allow you to fully experience the rhythms and beauty of the farm, community and nature. 

*Presented May 2011, The Safari Awards, Good Safari Guide.

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This was “Casa Jackie” for two whole nights and all to myself!!  Omg I can’t wait to go back someday.  My cottage was nestled away in the trees and I absolutely enjoyed having my tea in the mornings on my front deck!

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The bathroom — every girl’s fantasy!  I had a massive bathtub, an indoor shower beside the fireplace and an outdoor shower.  I tried all three!  The outside shower was my favourite!!

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Gibb’s Farm is self-sustaining — all food that we had was from this organic farm and homemade — eggs, meat, vegetables, fruit, butter, bread — everything!  I had the most amazing yogurt!  The farm also had their own coffee beans — grown and roasted right on the farm!  I brought some back for my Mom.  I have never enjoyed the taste of food more than I did here.  My mouth is watering right now remembering.

We visited a fascinating man named Daniel Tewa.  Daniel is a charismatic local historian, storyteller and member of the Iraqw people.  He shared his knowledge of Tanzanian culture and his wife showed us the ancestral beading and skirts of the Iraqw.

They have a mound-like traditional Iraqw home built beside their modern biogas-powered house.  Truly a memorable visit.

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Ngorongoro Highlands

Today we travelled to the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater — Ngorongoro began as an experiment to mix wildlife preservation alongside human settlements.

We found an abundance of wildlife — I saw one rhinoceros (the only one I’d see sadly) and many big cats, such as lion and cheetah.  The diversity of species often inspires awe, from baboons and elephants in the Lerai Forest to wildebeest and mountain reedbuck over the crater floor.

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Young zebras are brown and white — black and white zebras are full-grown.

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Scratching / massaging himself 🙂

This little guy broke my heart.  He was following his Mother and couldn’t keep up with her.  His leg had been attacked and when he went past us, we could see that his stomach also had injuries.  I understand the circle of life, but this was hard.  Where is the vet??  I know, I know, that’s impossible.  The guide said he wouldn’t make it through the night and a predator would get him.  It was so sad because his Mother was getting further and further ahead of him.  She would stop and turn back and look at him, but would turn back and keep on walking.  The short time we watched, the distance grew and grew between them.  It was devastating to watch.

Wildebeest!

Lions!

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Hippos!

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This is the only black rhino that we saw and it was from a distance.  They are poached for their horns — apparently some men believe that it makes them more manly and perform better sexually.  Seriously — such utter nonsense.

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Ngorongoro Crater!

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What an amazing day in the crater!

My entire body was still very sore from the hike.  When we got back to Gibb’s Farm I had an hour long deep tissue massage from a Maasai tribe member.  He came to my cottage and it was $60.  The deep tissue part hurt like hell — I was almost crying the entire time and I was cringing for most of it.  It was a little more liberal than I was used to and my face was bright red the entire time my bum and stomach were being massaged.

The following morning, I did NOT hurt at all — I felt great!  It was the best massage I’ve ever had in my entire life.

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Ngorongoro Highlands to Serengeti National Park

This morning I started off my day sitting on my deck in my pj’s with a cup of tea.  I think that is my favourite thing to do in the mornings — especially outside with a cup of tea.  This was my view.

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Today we left the Ngorongoro Highlands and descended onto the Serengeti plains.  This old elephant is the first animal we saw that day — one of his tusks was missing.  My Mother loves elephants and I always buy her elephant statues on my travels.  I had 3 of these pictures put on canvas for her last Christmas.

This old guy was handsome!

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We passed by a Maasai village.

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A highlight for me was Olduvai Gorge, which is one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world.  The following occupied Olduvai Gorge and provided significant knowledge of human evolution:

  • Homo Habilis ~ probably the first early human species ~ 1.9 million years ago
  • Australopithecine, Paranthropus Boisei ~ 1.8 million years ago
  • Homo Erectus ~ 1.2 million years ago
  • Homo Sapiens ~ 17,000 years ago

On a return trip, I’d like to spend more time in this area exploring.

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We entered Serengeti National Park and enjoyed a cold beer!

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We just missed the kill, but observed a cheetah eating a gazelle.  We were so close that you could hear the bones crunching as he ate.

Cheetahs are the fastest land animals!  Here is Mama Cheetah and her offspring.

Oh my heart, the giraffes!

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Lions!!

For our accommodations, we had moved to Thomson Safaris Central Serengeti Nyumba’s — these were awesome!  We were greeted with a drink!

Here was my tent:

Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti is Tanzania’s second largest national park and covers 6,000 square miles.  We started off today with a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti!  What an incredible experience!

We got in the basket when it was lying sideways on the ground – it’s exhilarating to take off and float about the Serengeti looking down at the plains and animals.

Some of the animals we saw from the air:

We were treated to champagne and breakfast when we landed!  Yes, I like my drink glasses full!  It’s a glass — fill it up!!!  I met a retired teacher from St. Albert who taught at the junior high school my son attended — again, what a small, small world we live in today!

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The bathrooms were very entertaining — you had a “Loo With A View”!

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I might have been slightly woozy after drinking all that champagne!  Not that anyone who knows me is surprised — I’m a drinking lightweight.

We continued on and saw so many more animals that day — the Serengeti is heaven on earth.  If you ever have the opportunity to go to Tanzania … GO!

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Lions are the King of the Jungle right?  It was mating time and I had high expectations of Leo the Lion!  I was definitely expecting a roar!!  Apparently mating goes on for days and occurs every 15-20 minutes, up to 82 times a day!  Believe me the lioness did not look all that impressed — I was soon to find out why.

I got my camera ready — I was all set to get pictures of hot lion sex.  I managed to take the following 6 pictures and then Leo the Lion was done.  Really?  That was what 10 whole seconds?  Men — I wouldn’t brag too much about being like a lion.